One large management issue with 350 students is emails. I was fortunate to have three TAs each time I taught, so they honestly dealt with the majority of the emails. Even if students emailed me, I would skim the email and assuming it was one that should go to the TA, forward it to that student’s TA (they each had part of the alphabet). How should students know if they should email me or the TA? It’s in the syllabus, of course:
Unfortunately, a clear syllabus is not very useful unless students read it. And, it has become very challenging to get students to read the syllabus. There is little incentive, as far as I can tell, especially given how little effort it takes to email the instructor/TA with a question rather than look for the answer in the syllabus.
I tried to keep my syllabus as short as possible – it is five pages. Perhaps that seems long, and I have read about the one page syllabus, but note that the one-page syllabus usually has a number of appendices or addendums, at which point you are asking students to read multiple documents. I’d rather have it all in one place. I use bullet points and tables. And multiple colors.
Yes, I have a syllabus quiz. It is due one day after the end of add/drop period so that everyone in the course can take it. It is worth points toward their final grade. It is online so they can take it at home, with the syllabus in front of them. They can take it as many times as they would like until they get a score they are satisfied with. Most students did eventually get 100% (84% of them). But 4% never took it, and 8% scored 83% or lower, even with retakes.
Want to see my whole syllabus? You can find it here.
Normally my blog posts provide advice for academia. I’m not sure this post could serve as best practices for getting students to read the syllabus, though, because, as you can see, I have not been particularly successful. I would love to hear what you have done to get students in large classes (any classes?) to read your syllabus.
“It’s in the syllabus first appeared on Eva Lefkowitz’s blog on June 20, 2019.”